NICU Transport Team Gets Tiniest Patients To Critical Care

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Moments after she was born, doctors noticed Quinn McCasey needed treatment for an infection.

Her mother, Kristen, recalls it was a whirlwind of activity, with the family unsure what was going on.

"It was the scariest moment of our lives," she says.

Geary Community Hospital, where Quinn was born, wasn't equipped to provide the care, so Stormont-Vail's NICU Transport Team took flight.

Dr. Heather Morgan, a neonatologist at Stormont, says many smaller hospitals have regular nurseries that don't have the capability to care for premature babies or newborns who need antibiotics, oxygen or IV fluids. The transport team goes out and gets those babies from outlying hospitals and bring them to Stormont, home to the region's only Level III NICU.

The team transports about 120 patients a year, many of them preemies. While they do take an AMR ground ambulance when weather forces it, they prefer LifeStar's helicopter.

"Our babies get so sick, so fast, we need to get out there and stabilize them as quickly as possible," Morgan said.

Team member Kim Scammon, RNC, C-NPT knows that all too well. She says most flights can get a baby back to Stormont in about 30 minutes, versus a two-hour ambulance drive.

Scammon is among six specially-trained nurses who work on the transport team. All are familiar with procedures they might need to perform in the field to stabilize an infant and are proficient in IV skills. When on call, they must be able to get to the hospital within 25 minutes.

When a call comes in, one of those nurses travels with a LifeStar crew member and pilot - there's not room for much else when the special infant isolet and other equipment is loaded for the ride. Scammon says the nurse will do any necessary procedures to stabilize the infant, then get them to the helicopter, where they're hooked to a cardiac monitor, respiratory monitor and sat monitor for constant monitoring throughout the trip.

The goal is keep the baby stable until they reach the landing pad - and further care.

The McAseys are convinced the team is the reason Quinn is headed home after just a few days. Kristen says the small hospitals do the best they can, but it was a relief to know they could get their little girl to a place where she could get the best care to see her through her situation.

Stormont's transport team is a bit unique in that neonatologists will actually travel with the nurse on critical calls. For example, if they have enough notice that a baby is being delivered before 32 weeks, the doctor will go out and assist with the delivery.


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